Monday, April 01, 2024

St. Thomas Aquinas; a Model of the Catholic Mind

St. Thomas Aquinas; a Model of the Catholic Mind: According to Saint Thomas Aquinas. "God is the answer to the question "Why is there something rather than nothing."

AG. K. Chesterton famously said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." Francis of Assisi vividly reminded his contemporaries, and vividly reminds us, that the Christian ideal CAN be realized. And he showed, furthermore, that the realization of that ideal unleashes enormous transformative power. Though real Christians will always be seen as a little eccentric, they will in time, always prove to be the true center and produce fruit, thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. - Bishop Robert Barron, The Pivotal PlayerBut what is a Catholic Mind? A Catholic Mind is a mind that seeks to see things as they are. It is a mind that penetrates to the essence of a thing or a situation or a person. Or a science, a country, or an

A Catholic Mind is a mind that seeks to see things as they are. It is a mind that penetrates to the essence of a thing or a situation or a person. Or a science, a country, or an art form.

Scratching the surface doesn’t scratch the itch of a truly Catholic Mind. It won’t settle for the superficial, nor rest with the superfluous. It is a mind with a passion — and a sheer delight — in knowing all of creation and its Creator.

You don't have to be Catholic to have a Catholic Mind. All human beings, by nature, Aristotle said, desire to know. A Catholic Mind is one that boldly asks the big questions: Who am I and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? And a Catholic Mind is not afraid of the answers.

And this is the advantage of a Catholic Mind over a merely modern mind: a Catholic Mind allows itself to be informed by God’s revelation to man, that is, all of reality, “things visible and invisible,” as Catholics say in the Nicene Creed. Since there is more to reality than what meets the eye or fits in a test tube, everything is on the table for the person with a Catholic Mind.

Bishop Robert Barron in the book the Pivotal Players writes: "Thomas Aquinas showed us completely and passionately as anyone in the tradition that Christians could think deeply about their faith. For him, no question was off limits. He demonstrated that faith and reason are not in opposition to one another; that being a believer involves no sacrificium intellectus. In our time, when so many hold that religious are simpletons and religious faith only a crude superstition, Thomas Aquinas remains more relevant than ever.

He is also pivotal because he beautifully exemplified a truly catholic mind. By which I mean, a mind open to every and any influence, willing to embrace the truth wherever he found it. Thomas was primarily inspired of course by the Bible and the great Christian theological tradition. But he also read and cited with enthusiasm the pagan philosophers Plato. Aristotle and Cicero; The Jewish Rabbi Moses Meimonides, the Muslim scholars Averroes and Avicenna. Even when he disagreed with a thinker, as he did with Origen and Siger of Brabant, he always did do with respect and without polemics. In this, he's a wonderful model for our time, when the religious conversation is so sadly marked by rancor and vitiperation.

Finally, he's pivotal in his understanding of God as noncompetitively transcendent. The God of Thomas Aquinas is not a threat to human freedom and human integrity. But the very ground of that freedom and that integrity. Thomas Aquinas would agree with St. Irenaeus that "The glory of God is a human being fully alive." At a time when so many people see God's existence as undermining the human project, how liberating abd clarifying this doctrine us. The God of Thomas Aquinas is the God of the burning bush, the power whose proximity makes the world more beautiful and more radiant without consuming.

Plato was born in Athens, Greece, was a Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, and founder of the Academy, best known as the author of philosophical works of unparalleled influence. But perhaps one of his most influential contributions to philosophy was the Theory of Forms. Plato's Theory of Forms asserts that the physical world is not really the 'real' world; instead, ultimate reality exists beyond our physical world.

Aristotle's concepts are function, classification, and hierarchy; he uses these concepts to explain everything. While modern science emphasizes laws, Aristotle emphasizes the search for accurate definitions of things in terms of their essential properties. According to Aristotle, the purpose and ultimate goal in life is to achieve eudaimonia ('happiness'). He believed that eudaimonia was not simply virtue, nor pleasure, but rather it was the exercise of virtue.

Cicero's study of ancient Greek ideas led him to invent several Latin terms. Key among his philosophical ideas is the idea of natural laws, which are independent of man-made laws and can be uncovered through the use of reason. Even rulers must obey natural laws, or else they are unjust tyrants.

Rabbi Maimonides held that God so far exceeds our capacity to have knowledge of the divine nature that we are severely limited in how we are able to describe or comprehend God. Even substance cannot be predicated of God in the sense with which we use the word to express knowledge of entities in the created order.

Origen believed that the Bible was the Word of God. One of the major concerns of Origen’s work was to assist Christians facing the intellectual challenges of the third century by providing scriptural answers to the questions posed by Hellenistic philosophy and culture.

He is the first theologian to state unequivocally that the “three hypostases” which constitute the Trinity are eternal not only in nature, but in their hypostatic character; there was never a time when wisdom was the latent thought of the Father and had not yet come forth as speech. The chief accusations against Origen’s teaching are the following: making the Son inferior to the Father and thus being a precursor of Arianism, a 4th-century heresy that denied that the Father and the Son were of the same substance; spiritualizing away the resurrection of the body; denying hell, a morally enervating universalism; speculating about preexistent souls and world cycles; and dissolving redemptive history into timeless myth by using allegorical interpretation

The Muslim scholars Averroes is most famous for his commentaries of Aristotle's works. He argues, that "there is only one, single human capacity for human knowledge," the "material intellect", which is one and the same for all human beings.

Averroes argued that philosophy was permissible in Islam and even compulsory among certain elites. He also argued scriptural text should be interpreted allegorically if it appeared to contradict conclusions reached by reason and philosophy.
Abu Ali Al-Hussein Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna, was one of the most eminent Muslim physicians and philosophers of his days whose influence on Islamic and European medicine persisted for centuries.

His most important medical works are the Canon of Medicine medical encyclopedia and a treatise on cardiac drugs.

Avicenna's metaphysics is generally expressed in Aristotelian terms. The quest to understand being qua being subsumes the philosophical notion of God. Divine existence is a cornerstone of his metaphysics. Divine existence bestows existence and hence meaning and value upon all that exists.

About Saint Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Robert Barron writes: "Though this is overlooked in most treatments of Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominicsn saint is best characterized as someone deeply in love with Jesus Christ. We can sense this love in his devotion to the Mass and the Eucharist, as well as in his most remarkable mystical experiences. But we can also see it in his writings concerning Jesus, which are the linchpin of his work

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